I have a client who would like a book cover design and wants to use it for unlimited publishing. For the designers who have experience with this have you negotiated royalties? Or just accepted the project for a flat rate?

  • At least with book covers, the thing is, people don't judge a book by it's cover anymore since we're all buying stuff on Amazon. So, alas, I don't think the designer has as big of an argument as they once did.
    – DA01
    Jun 14, 2015 at 4:38
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    What do you mean by “unlimited publishing”? Are they wanting to use it for multiple books (you design once, then they tweak for future books)? It’s not unusual to get a royalty-like flat fee per new publication. Actual sales-based royalties for a designer is something I’ve never seen in my time working as both a freelance book designer and as an editor for a publisher. Nov 9, 2020 at 3:29

2 Answers 2


It's up to you, and quite often it's situation dependant. If it's a very niche book that's only going to sell a couple of hundred copies then you're probably going to prefer a flat rate anyway, if you're illustrating the cover of Dan Browns next novel however you might want a piece of the back end... The main thing is getting a fee that you can walk away happy with.

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    Yes but dan brown probably wont want royalties for you. So the small time book makes more sense for royalties, since they have less money for flat rate. So you can say sure but if you hit big i want propotion of it back. Maybe you can sell it I want royalties if you ever sell over a thousand copies for example...
    – joojaa
    Jan 13, 2015 at 7:39

It's quite rare designers get royalties on the layout of a book. And rarer an author would accept to give your any royalties for this.

And by unlimited publishing, do you mean the client is asking for the "right" to sell 5 or 50,000 copies? Or do you mean using the cover as a template to resell? Because if it's a template to resell, then you can sell him the rights accordingly but you also need to be careful to not use stock pictures that you purchased and for which you didn't pay the commercial rights.

You can adjust a flat price for this but since all books are usually created to be sold, that would be unusual to ask for royalties because the book will be published. The only time I could see this acceptable (for an author) is if you work in partnership with him and create some content for free (ex. pictures, illustrations, texts, etc.)

Otherwise, it's a bit like asking a commission on the products your client would sell using a catalog you designed for him!

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